Review Summary: In the band's golden days, Pearl Jam borrows guitar legend Neil Young for a short EP, and the result is two very solid tracks.2 of 2 thought this review was well written
The early 1990’s were good to Pearl Jam. In fact, they were absolutely outstanding. In the midst of the late 80’s and early 90’s grunge movement, Pearl Jam made a roaring entrance in 1991 with classic debut “Ten.” “Ten” was not only home to several of the band’s most memorable songs, but was also a model for both debut and grunge records. In 1993, Pearl Jam’s second full-length album was released; it was brutal and aggressive, but yet was relaxing and extraordinarily diverse. Pearl Jam could do no wrong at this point, for Vedder’s angst-ridden, powerful, and distinct vocals were complemented beautifully by a band that is just as talented. The band’s third album “Vitalogy,” while not as acclaimed as its predecessors was still a success, and Pearl Jam was swiftly becoming one of the most influential rock bands of our generation. This two track EP “Merkinball” captures Pearl Jam at their peak, and is basically a testament to how good the band really was, even at the least demanding moments.
Influence is something that affects all musicians. Every band or single member has musicians that have altered what music they listen to, or the type of music they play. These figures not only drive us to love the music, but to feel and believe in it. In the case of Pearl Jam, Neil Young was that artist. Any fan of Pearl Jam would tell you that the band doesn’t perform Rockin’ In the Free World
and even F***ing up
for nothing. Just listen to Vedder’s prevailing yell on “I see a woman in the night, with a baby in her hand, under an old street light, near a garbage can,” and try to say that he doesn’t feel the music. With “Merkinball,” Pearl Jam had an opportunity to perform with one of their idols, something that is never encountered by even the most successful groups.
“Merkinball” was recorded in February of 1995, with Young contributing both his outstanding guitar playing and exceptional songwriting. The EP’s first track I Got ID
or known as fans as I Got S***
plays as a typical “Vitalogy” or “Vs.” era song. I Got ID
is a powerful track, for distorted guitars and majestic vocals are instrumental in providing the song’s muscle. Young’s raunchy guitar solo is nothing short of spectacular and is somewhat reminiscent of his solo in Like a Hurricane
. Second track Long Road
serves as an utter disparity to I Got ID
, for it is a much more open piece, and something that wouldn’t be out of place on Vedder’s “Into the Wild” solo project. Long Road
has been used several times by the band as a concert opener because of its buildup, and the lyrics are exceptional. “And I wished for so long, I cannot stay. All the precious moments, cannot stay. It's not like wings have fallen, I cannot say. Without you something is missing, I cannot say.”
“Merkinball” is a brief representation of Pearl Jam’s work during their golden days. This particular EP is essential for fans of the band and Neil Young, and the listener gets a taste of both Young’s guitar playing and songwriting here. While I Got ID
displays the strength of the first three records, Long Road
serves as an experimental track that is an indication of what is to come with “No Code” released the following year.